Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 312-14.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  John T. Redfield

John T. Redfield is now living retired at Newell, deriving his income largely from his extensive investment in land.  He was born in Oriskany, New York, October 2, 1848, and is of English descent. The Redfield family originated in England and the ancestry is traced back to William Redfield, who held an ecclesiastical position in 1218 A. D., under the reign of King John.  The progenitor of the family in America also bore the name of William Redfield.  He landed with a colony in Massachusetts, about six miles from Boston, in 1630 and was one of the first to settle on the south side of the Charles river.  The place of his location is now easily established, it being the northwest section of what is today the town of Brighton.


Theophilus Redfield, grandfather of John T. Redfield, was born in the state of New York and was a tanner by trade.  He removed to Watertown, New York, where he died in 1858 at the advanced age of eighty-four years.  His wife, in her maidenhood Ruth M. Tuttle, survived him and died at a very old age.  They had ten children:  Sophronia, William E., Maroa, Darius, Sophia, George, Henry Stone, Emily, James W., and John Calvin.


Rev. Henry Stone Redfield, born in the Empire state, was a graduate of Hamilton College and of the Auburn Theological Seminary, after which he entered upon the active work of the ministry and largely engaged in preaching in his native state, he was chaplain in the Twenty-fourth New York Regiment during the Civil war and his later years were passed in Westfield, New York.  He wedded Mary Emeline Shapley, who was also born in New York and died at Phoenix, that state, in 1870.  They were parents of six children:  Henry Martin, now deceased; James Bartlet, who died at the age of two years; John T.; Mary Catherine, who died when three years of age; William, of Spokane, Washington; and Alfred, of Kansas City, Missouri.


John T. Redfield spent the greater part of his youth in Oswego, New York, and after attending the public schools there continued his education in the Oswego Academy.  He then learned the cabinet-maker's trade, which he followed until his marriage.  On his removal from New York to Newell, Iowa, in 1878, he purchased a coal business and became a factor in the commercial activity of the town where his brother Henry was already engaged in the elevator and grain business.  They formed a partnership and continued their interests in the firm name of Redfield Brothers for many years.  They bought both grain and live-stock and sold farm machinery.  Their business constituted the grain market for a district more than thirty miles in area.  During the early period of their connection with the business life of the locality Edward Foy was purchasing muskrat hides on such a large scale that he paid out more for hides than was paid for grain and live-stock, as indicated by the bank books of that period.  The Redfield Brothers continued together for twenty years, at the end of which time John T. Redfield purchased his brother's interests and a few years later sold out to Martin Goltey.  Mr. Redfield owned the corner store now occupied by J. 0. Erwin, and other property which he traded for farming land.  He now owns eleven hundred and twenty acres in Sac county but makes his residence in Newell and gives his supervision to his land and cattle interests.  He handles Aberdeen-Angus cattle on an extensive scale and during the past three years has exhibited his cattle at the stock show in Chicago.


On the 29th of September, 1869, Mr. Redfield was married to Miss Eldona Gilbert, a daughter of Joseph and Louise (Haight) Gilbert.  By their marriage there are two sons and a daughter:  Frank G., the eldest, is a partner and assistant cashier in the Miller & Chaney Bank of Newell.  He wedded Mary I. Miller, daughter of De Witt C. and Agnes (Lawson) Miller and they have four children:  Frances, Dona, John Miller and an infant son.  Lena Kate, the only daughter, became the wife of Dr. F. C. Foley and died leaving a daughter, Dona. Clayton II has recently completed a course in the Chicago University.


Mr. and Mrs. Redfield are members of the Congregational church, in which he is serving as deacon, and in the various church activities they are deeply interested.  He belongs to Newell Lodge, No. 332, I. O. O. F., and votes with the republican party.  At one time he served as justice of the peace, but has never been active as an office seeker, preferring to give his time and enterprise to his business affairs, which gradually increased as the years went by until he is now the owner of extensive farming and cattle-raising interests and one of the most prosperous citizens of his community.  He is, moreover, one of the early settlers of Buena Vista county, having lived here for more than a third of a century.  At the time of his arrival it was a frontier district in which the work of improvement seemed scarcely begun, the now thriving cities of Newell and Storm Lake were tiny villages and the homes of the farmers were widely scattered.  Much of the land was uncultivated and only here and there was a tract plowed to show that the seeds of civilization had been planted in this pioneer district.  Mr. Redfield has taken a very active and helpful part in the growth and development of the country and through his careful managed business interests has attained gratifying prosperity.